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Latin Ensemble Extraordinaire Concert celebrates feel good music

Gifted keyboardist and bass player Rowan Barcham plays with the Magnet Arts High School Latin Ensemble.
Karen Eubank

The Latin Ensemble Extraordinaire Concert features gifted students from the award-winning Dallas Arts Magnet High School and Mountain View College. Located at the Booker T. Washington High School campus in the downtown Dallas Performing Arts District, on March 8th at 7 p.m., the concert is free and open to the public.

Directed by Kent Ellingson, 15 gifted Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (BTWHSPVA) students will open the show with rousing music styles of greats like Tito Puente and Celia Cruz. They perform works from the Afro-Cuban tradition as well as Brazil and Puerto Rico styles.

The Magnet Arts High School is recognized nationally and has garnered an astonishing 221 “DownBeat Student Awards” since 1983. It has the most wins of all institutions including high school, college, university and middle schools in North America. The high school's alumni have won 28 Grammy Awards. Director Kent Ellingson has been part of the Dallas music scene since the early 1980s, performing in concert with many jazz giants including Randy Brecker, Kevin Mahogany and Clark Terry.

Ellingson shared, “No other schools have a Latin Ensemble that deals with popular Latin music plus jazz. We have about 20 tunes the kids have memorized and they are learning new material all the time.” He continued, “I love working with the group. The kids are so self-motivated and work together well as a combo.” 

When Ellingson mentioned a dual concert the students suggested Mountain View College because of their strong musical reputation. The Magnet Arts High School has already started its own legacy with DownBeat by winning the first ever Latin Jazz award during the 2008-2009 school year.

The life of a Booker T. Washington music student is one of focus and dedication. Freshman Rowan Barcham described his busy schedule:

"A week of school is a synthesis of academics and music-both of which are serious business. I try to fit in an hour a day at school. It's sometimes difficult to balance but overall it's manageable. I'll practice at lunch with friends; sometimes I'll practice before classes start and of course after school. I practice a couple of hours a day at home during the week and then four or five during the weekend. And of course I have homework and studying to work in, but it all gets done. I've had to give up some outside activities like TaeKwon Do but it's worth it. Booker T. is a terrific school with incredible teachers. You'll learn more than you can imagine at this school!"

But what Rowan shared next really says it all, “To be in Latin Ensemble is truly a privilege. There's an amazing collaborative atmosphere and best of all, I'm playing music that makes people feel good."

Latin Ensemble Extraordinaire Concert
at the Booker T. Washington High School*
2501 Flora Street, Dallas 75201
Thursday, March 8th at 7 p.m.

Free and open to the public

*Located in the downtown Dallas Performing Arts District across the street from the Winspear Opera House.

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